Dipping Our Toes In The Pool

 

Today, Lily the Lab had an adventure at a local facility that provides dogs with pool time & training to eventually learn to dock dive if the dog chooses.

The trainer reminded us that anything Lily did today was good, and I agreed with her. Of course, in my mind I imagined Lily would be a natural given her natural propensity for running faster than light, jumping and leaping and playing fetch until everyone is ready to pull out their hair.

But, she was a little shy and kind of demure. I suppose I was grateful she didn’t lose her mind and try to drown the trainer. I’m also thankful she didn’t turn the pool into a toilet in any way–the clean-up fees could have eaten away our budget for things as fun as doggy swimming lessons.

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Mother’s Day Approaches

We have a local florist that has been a part of my relationship with a very special person for over twenty years. My first mother-in-law [I refuse to call her “ex” because that makes it sound like she is no longer in my life] fell in love with Oberer’s, as did I, when I was planning my first wedding. As a mom to three sons, she didn’t imagine she would be included in wedding planning. But, we hit it off and even though she lived in Connecticut, I wanted her to feel connected to the wedding. Once I selected the flowers, I asked the florist to send her a bouquet with examples of all the choices so I could walk through them with her by phone and tell her how each one would be used.

She took on planning the rehearsal dinner with gusto. Because we had so many friends and family from out of town attending the wedding, she planned a larger event and invited many more than traditionally might be included in such a dinner. It was a great night with friends, family, shared memories and new ones made. And the centerpieces she worked to design with the professionals at Oberer’s were absolutely breathtaking.

For as many years as I have been a mom, my first mother-in-law has always remembered me on Mother’s Day. She plays a very instrumental role in my oldest daughter’s life and, as the first grandchild, my daughter has enjoyed a special relationship with her grandmother. It’s hard to believe my oldest will be a senior in high school this fall!

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.46.37 PMFor the past handful of years, I have been gifted with a gorgeous patio pot from Oberer’s for Mother’s Day.

These patio pots never fail to be healthy and gorgeous and they really liven up my lackluster porch. When you live in a 1972 tri-level in an older neighborhood, you need all the help you can get!

Sometimes the pots involve perennials, so it’s a gift that keeps on giving throughout the season. I always like to add fresh plantings in future springs/summers because you cannot go wrong with gorgeous full containers of flowers. The girls don’t even mind watering them either and the pots do thwart hungry rabbits ¬†better than some of our flower beds do.

Not to be outdone, my girls sent me some fantastic orchids today. They also included a Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.46.50 PMpretty vase–if I didn’t know better, I would think my oldest picked a vase that would look great in HER room once the blooms fade.

I know my husband ordered the flowers and penned the sentiment on the card, but he did it in the girls’ voice which made it very sweet. We have been married almost 14 years and have recently had some major moments, but he’s trying very hard and being the most mindful he’s been since very early in our marriage. I appreciate that.

This year, like most, the Army has scheduled something for him to do during the weekend closest to our anniversary. But, like any ride-or-die who waits out all distractions including Mistress Army, this is the LAST such anniversary. His outprocessing after 22 years of service is scheduled for the Saturday before our 14th wedding anniversary. I’m thinking we are going to celebrate two big moments that day!

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 11.04.03 PMLast Sunday was his final duty day. It was bittersweet. Luckily, it worked out that the girls and I could attend–especially given that our youngest had a soccer tournament. Sometimes it works out when you don’t play in the championship match!

What was just supposed to be us watching his final formation, turned into a bit of a special moment. He received some beautiful gifts from the troop and from or youngest plus had a chance to speak to all those assembled prior to them being dismissed.

It’s been a long road on many levels and we are forever changed by his service. We know that we are stronger for it and, for better or worse, we live with the edge the Army gave us. I don’t think we would be as tight as we are without his service and I know for a fact that I would not have met some of my closest, dearest and most fantastic friends who are now like family without it.

Last WOD of the Year

  Never let it be said that my trainer isn’t creative. The last workout of 2015 contained lots of things we have done throughout the year (over 30 to be exact) and each task had to be repeated 15 times.  I think she must be clairvoyant and knew that I would be sucking down a rather extravagant dinner, so she thought she had better make it good. 

Tonight I celebrated the new year a little early with two of the best friends a girl could ask for–my Momtourage. We went to a new-to-us restaurant called The Corner Kitchen. I cannot say enough good things about the experience. The mismatched fine China, the butcher block table tops and the wait staff dressed in plaid shirts set a great vibe. I loved the way the inside of a once seedy college bar had been transformed into a fun eatery. 

  The menu was varied and we tried several things on it. Everything was delicious. My duck carbonara pasta was the small order (I loved having that option!) and I paired it with the special small plate of the night–amazing Brussels sprouts. So. Good. 

Dessert menu also did not disappoint. The three of us shared an order of chocolate mousse and an order of butterscotch pudding. Both house made right down to the whipped cream. 

These are the types of restaurants that should be rewarded with your patronage. Careful preparation of fresh ingredients. You cannot beat that and the prices were extremely reasonable. We divided the bill into thirds and each paid $30–and that’s with drinks and desserts. 

I am not sure I will need to eat again until sometime next year. (See what I did there?) 

Hibernation is Overrated

Thank goodness the sun is shining today and the temperature made it into the 60’s. After last winter’s absolutely offensive cold complete with tons of snow, frigid ice and wind chill records, I really couldn’t take much more from this year’s version of winter. Could we please just move along to spring and call it a wrap?

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Finally a Fun Saturday!

amyandmel_pinotMy friend, Amy, always knows how to have fun. She throws the best parties [the food is always amazing] and we always have a great time. She invited me to join her this morning at a new business not far from my house.

This particular Pinot’s Palette is the first franchise in Ohio. After visiting this morning, I can dub this little spot a Community Gem. Aside from the mimosas in the morning, this adventure presented me with a blank canvas and allowed me to make a piece of art.

I also love how social media savvy the business is. They take photos throughout the session and post them on their Facebook page. This one was snapped by the bartender/assistant when we first started our projects. You can see that Amy has been here before and felt comfortable starting her tulips along with the art teacher. I felt more comfortable waiting until I watched her paint an entire tulip before striking out on my own.

I think our finished products were pretty impressive. My husband refuses to allow me to help paint walls [because I finishedprojectam horrible at it] and there were a few moments during the class where I was reminded that painting is not my forte.

But, it was fun.

No pressure. Just listening to 80’s music, chatting with other classmates, and kind of impressing myself with my ability to make my painting look halfway decent.

I will definitely be doing this again. Amy is always up for it and I want to take the girls, my mom & sister and even my nephew if he wants to try. They offer kids’ classes with kid-friendly designs. I think it would be a great way to spend a couple hours on a Saturday.

In addition to the kids’ classes, they also offer date nights. The paintings are complimentary to each other–a city scene background with a man on the edge of one canvas and a woman on the edge of the other–they would look great hanging side-by-side. Not sure if my husband would be game, but if I tell them there is a nice beer or glass of wine involved, he might be willing to give it a go.

Another interesting little twist on the day–my oldest volunteered at a fundraising gala at a local children’s museum tonight. The black tie event required her and her fellow high school volunteers to dress in formal dresses. She is wearing the dress I wore to my senior prom. It is a timeless style and she loved it. I loved seeing her in it [kind of!], but it was bittersweet too.

greengoodnessMy schedule was pretty whack today as far as food goes. I didn’t eat anything off my personal Paleo plan, but I didn’t eat when I should have. I decided to give my system a rest and have a green smoothie.

It was so delicious!

I love that the Vitamix can allow me to put anything in it and make a masterpiece.

I started with almond milk then added fresh raspberries and a fresh peach. I sliced 1/4 of a cucumber into the container and then put in frozen spinach. Blended that and then added ice and voila! I forgot that I replenished my ginger supple, but that is something to look forward to tomorrow.

I joined the 30-Day challenge at Simple Green Smoothies. My particular challenge starts in October, but with their super helpful Facebook page, I am going to “practice” this month.

If you decide to join the challenge, be sure to let me know & we can share recipes and ideas. We can also review the recipes that are sent to us from the site. I love sharing ideas and this blog is a fun way to connect with others who

Whole 30 — Day 06

Day 6 means the Whole 30 is 1/5 done. Can I do this five more times? I’d be lying if I said that today weren’t the first day in recorded history that I drove past Sonic with my window down and actually smelled the waffle cones/sugary sweetness of something forbidden.

I should say, though, that I had an impossibly sweet Fuji apple today and loved every minute. That and tuna rounded out lunch time. [I admit it, I still cannot bring myself to eat breakfast; not sure what’s happening there, but it will come]. I had chicken stir fry in mind for dinner, but my daughter and I needed to go to our Farmer’s Market first so we beat closing time. I had heard that a nearby specialty meats vendor attended our market. I wondered what he might have in store for us and I couldn’t have been more surprised and pleased.

Specialty brats caught my eye and we settled on sundried tomato and basil. All thoughts of chicken stir fry flew right from my ribeye2head. They looked delicious frozen, so I knew fully cooked they would be tremendous.

The vendor told me that today was special because he actually had steaks in his freezer. My youngest, as picky as she is, loves steak. She’s been visiting grandma and this would make a nice welcome back meal.

The ribeye he pulled from the freezer and showed to me looked fantastic! Super lean and plenty big for we three girls to share.

I usually only buy my meat locally. I don’t purchase meat from the big grocery store chains or big box stores. I’ve just never had good luck with it. I cut corners elsewhere so I can do produce and meat at our nice local market. Now, I can add our farmer’s market to that as well.

I’m trying to figure out how I want to prepare this bad boy. Probably just low and slow and let it be who it is…tremendous!

We also picked up some veggies–freshly picked green bell peppers, eggplant, cucumber and zucchini. Those will be fun for this week too.

Another fun addition to the Farmer’s Market is the new food truck from our favorite restaurant. It just happens to be elmesontrucklocated directly across the street from the Farmer’s Market.

Reasonably priced and festively colored, the food truck set up shop in the corner of the lot. My daughter, who is so sweet, didn’t want to eat anything in front of me. That’s not fair, especially when chicken empanadas are on the line!

I noted they had freshly made plantain chips, so we ordered some to share as well. They had just the right crunch!

My daughter went ahead and ordered the empanada. It smelled heavenly. I actually enjoyed watching her eat it. Partly because it looked so good and party because I knew if it came from El Meson, it was made with great ingredients.

Lucky us, our farmer’s market will be here weekly until late October. This was our first stop, but we’ll definitely make it a weekly adventure. Next week? I may need to pick out some fancy handmade soap for myself. Nothing like a nice lavender soap to make a shower even better.

empanada2And, admittedly, once this Whole 30 is over, I definitely will try at least a bite [or six] of an empanada.

But for tonight, we settled on those sundried tomato and basil brats. The seasoning was just right and they were delicious! I know they will go great with scrambled eggs or in an omelet too.

Day 06 down. Just a small cup of coffee today [no overwhelming urge to have one immediately after I woke up] and aside from that, it was all H20. That SodaStream will make a water drinker of me yet!

Mom Scores Big With Birthday-at-the-Bakery

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Masterpiece in the Making

This weekend, we experienced the perfect storm of things that make my girls ecstatic–a surprise party, a visit to ele Cake Company, and a chance to decorate baked goods.

M1 and M2 have had a steadfast and abiding love of all things baking related since they were tiny. M1’s portfolio contains several masterpieces made with very limited equipment. She enjoys hearing the raves of family and friends alike who have tasted her various creations.

But, nothing revs her up more than having an opportunity to use real equipment. If she can do that in the company of good friends, all the better!

We have been loyal customers of ele Cake Company before it was even ele Cake Company. We’ve even done this birthday party once before for M1, but it wasn’t a surprise and it involved different friends. I love the convenience of this party–ele handles the decorating, the refreshments, the instruction, the supplies and, even the clean up. It’s an awesome way to spend two hours and with a gourmet coffee bar and full bakery case while the party goers work away, even the parents can have something to do.

My birthday girl was genuinely surprised and my youngest was very tickled that she had helped prod along Mom into planning PipingBagsand holding the party.

The girls we excited to give the decorating a try and ele provides an experienced decorator to assist the party goers with basic techniques, all while decorating a birthday cake for the attendees to eat at the end. The best part, in my opinion, of the party remains the party favors. Who wouldn’t want to take home a fresh, delicious cake with them from a party? I love that it exposes so many more families to our amazing local independent cake company. We have converted several friends into devout ele Cake Company fans through cupcakes, birthday cakes and other yummy, creative baked offerings. You simply cannot go wrong with anything this community gem offers!

CakesOf course, my battery in my camera waned prior to me capturing any finished cakes…Mom Fail. But, it was easy to see from the developing designs that these cakes were all stand out achievements for novice decorating divas.

The decorating expert had nothing but compliments about the gathered group and said it was fun to have a group with questions who were interested in learning things and making their cakes look so nice.

This wonderful cake company has two locations, one in West Carrollton and another in Beavercreek, so if you’re local or just passing through, you can swing by and try a sample for yourself. Our West Carrollton location is conveniently located off I-75’s newly renovated exit 47 with on- and off-street parking. Check out their Facebook page and give them a “like.”

A Community Gem–SICSA works for animals

In the Dayton area, we are blessed by some truly amazing groups of people doing fantastic work. The Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals (SICSA) stands as one of my faves. You already know I’m a dog person. Truthfully, I’m an animal person. I love cats, their dander doesn’t care for me–so I admire them at a distance. I first learned of and loved SICSA in 1993 when I met the dog that would set the bar for all other canines in my life.

Oscar, the WonderMutt, had been named Hershey by the staff. He and his littermates had been named after favorite candies. He was the last to be adopted and had been at the center for nearly seven months when we first met him. My fiance at the time had been looking at dogs as a Christmas present for us. He had been to the center on the weekend when all the fosters bring their charges to the center to see and be seen. He had thought one particular dog fit the bill. Unfortunately, I worked a lot of weekends back then and once I realized what he was up to, I asked if we couldn’t please stop by SICSA and look at dogs. I should have said, look at “dog.” It was a time of the week when the dogs were home with fosters…except Oscar. To make a long story short, some big brown eyes and ear licks later and he was in our car heading home with us. His finding story led us to his name–he and his littermates had been discovered by a woman when she heard puppies crying. Someone had driven by her home, picked up the garbage bags in her curbside garbage container, dumped the puppies in, replaced the trash bags, and fled the scene. A dog found in a trash can needs the name Oscar, don’t you think? By his response when we first said it, he absolutely thought so.

Fast forward a handful of years and Oscar had become our one and only baby–and then, he wasn’t. It was the one and only time he was a drama queen.

He was over it soon enough, though, and became a tolerant big brother to M1 as she followed him around, handfed him, built Lego cities on his back and often confused his toys for her own.

He was with us until 2007 when the tumor on his liver finally took over and pushed him over the cliff. A couple years before that, he’d been given “six months tops.” Fortunately, Oscar was as stubborn as his Mama and had we not known the truth, we never would have imagined he had a thing wrong with him. He even ended up with two new ACLs before it was all over and he learned to love romping around the backyard again. He was an amazing dog. I think about him every day and I thank him for the amazing gift that was his friendship.

We have such a soft spot for SICSA that our oldest daughter, M1, even had a birthday party in which she collected treats, toys and other fun things to donate to SICSA. She was such an excited and proud birthday girl to head to the facility and drop off the trunkload of donated goods we’d collected from her friends. Her friends were equally excited to buy a gift for a lonely dog or cat waiting for their forever homes.

Today, SICSA has two adoption facilities and an active online presence on Facebook and beyond. It’s wonderful to have such a terrific organization in our local community and Dayton can be proud of the group’s efforts on behalf of animals in the Miami Valley and beyond.